Academic Accommodations

(Approved by the Senate on June 10, 2019 and effective immediately)


1.   This Policy outlines how the University of Ottawa meets its legal duty to accommodate in relation to academic accommodation1 for students and student applicants with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This Policy does not cover academic accommodation1 for other reasons not related to disability.


2.   The University is committed to providing students and student applicants with disabilities academic accommodation1 to allow them an equitable opportunity to fully access and participate in the learning environment12 with dignity, autonomy and without impediment while preserving academic freedom, academic integrity and academic standards3.

3.   The University will provide reasonable14 and appropriate accommodation4 to students and student applicants with a known disability11 in a timely, respectful and confidential manner as required under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Where a requested accommodation would result in undue hardship16, the University will inform the student and consider an alternative accommodation. Interim and retroactive academic accommodation13 will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

4.   The University is committed to communicating clear and inclusive registration and admissions standards and to accept academically qualified candidates for admission to undergraduate, graduate, and non-credit programs.

5.   The University encourages dialogue between educators8 and students as to how the needs of students can be accommodated within the parameters of legislation and current University processes. All such dialogue requires mutual understanding and respect from the parties involved in the accommodation process.

6.   The University will make efforts to disseminate to the students and student applicants all learning outcomes and essential academic requirements and skills9 related to courses, programs and other academic activities2 within its learning environment12 and to incorporate principles of universal design17 into its teaching, evaluation methodologies, academic activities2 and course curricula.

7.   The University will inform student applicants and students with temporary and permanent disabilities about the process to request academic accommodations1.These processes will include:

  1. clear information about timelines and deadlines;
  2. required steps;
  3. appropriate documentation5;
  4. outside sources of funding that must be accessed when requesting an academic accommodation1; and
  5. how to handle academic accommodation1 disagreements, complaints and appeals.

8.   The University ensures that the disability6-related information of students will not appear on the student’s official university records, test results, academic transcripts or graduation documentation. This information will only be released with the student’s consent or when required by law. For the purpose of data collection, the identity of the students and student applicants with disabilities will be removed.


9.   This policy applies to the provision of educational services7 and academic activities2 for student applicants and students with disabilities who requires academic accommodations1.

10.   This policy does not replace or change the University’s obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code.


11.   This Policy must be read and interpreted within the context of the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, as mentioned in section 1 of this Policy.



12.   Successful academic accommodation1 requires the participation of students, faculty members and administrative staff within the University, and responsibility for it is thus shared by all parties. A collaborative process requires effective and open communication among all parties.

Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs

13.   The Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs is responsible for the oversight of this Policy and for monitoring progress and addressing issues that arise in its execution.


14.   Students seeking an academic accommodation1 are required to participate fully in the academic accommodations process. This participation includes:

  1. contacting SASS – Academic accommodations, as soon as the student is aware of their disability6 and the need for academic accommodation in the learning environment12a, ideally before classes or academic work begins;
  2. following the process to create the accommodation plan;
  3. speaking with their Learning Specialist, educator8 or faculty regarding the implementation of the approved accommodation plan as needed; and
  4. notifying their assigned Learning Specialist of any changes that may impact an already established accommodation plan in a timely fashion.


15.   Members of faculty and instructional staff, supported by administrative staff, share the University’s legal responsibility for providing academic accommodation1 of students with disabilities. Educators8 are responsible for collaborating in the academic accommodation process and for implementing the approved accommodation plan, as applicable, by:

  1. referring all accommodation requests related to a disability6 to Student Academic Success Service (SASS) – Academic Accommodations;
  2. be alert to the possibility that a person may need an accommodation even if they have not made a specific or formal request.
  3. implementing the accommodation plan with the support of the SASS – Academic Accommodations staff and their faculty, and participating where appropriate in the development of accommodation plans;
  4. working collaboratively with the SASS – Academic Accommodations, the student, and the Faculty to find a satisfactory resolution in those instances where the educator8 believes that an accommodation plan puts at risk the student’s ability to meet academic standard, academic integrity, essential academic requirements and skills; and
  5. in collaboration with the Teaching and Learning Support Service, consider universal design17 elements of their course that could minimize the need for accommodations.

Student Academic Success Service (SASS) - Academic Accommodations1

16.   The SASS - Academic Accommodations is the central resource for disability6 advising and the development of accommodation plans for students with disabilities. The SASS - Academic Accommodations is responsible for co-ordinating the academic accommodations1 process for students, which includes:

  1. obtaining and storing relevant disability related information (e.g. documentation related to any permanent, temporary, or fluctuating functional limitation);
  2. assessing the University’s duty to accommodate;
  3. when deemed necessary, seeking additional information, assessments or opinions about the nature of the functional limitation(s) as it relates to the student’s disability;
  4. working collaboratively with faculties, educators8 and students to inform accommodation decisions and develop accommodation plans; and overseeing the implementation and delivery of adapted measures and accommodations (for example, obtaining e-versions and converting file formats of learning material and providing closed caption media used in the classroom and online);
  5. providing a way for students to obtain and share their academic accommodation plans and bona fide functional limitations to stakeholders involved in providing accommodations in experiential learning10 settings.

Vice-Deans and Program Directors

17.   Vice-Deans and Program Directors have a key leadership role within faculties and are responsible for:

  1. working with educators8 to define the essential academic requirements and skills9 of programs and courses and ;
  2. consulting with the Dean, where necessary, on resources required for accommodations;
  3. working with educators to ensure that reasonable14 academic accommodation plans are implemented;
  4. working with the SASS – Academic Accommodations and other experts to make informed decisions related to complex or retroactive academic accommodations13 or appeals.

Teaching and Learning Support Service

18.   The Teaching and Learning Support Service will provide assistance and support to educators8 that facilitate the academic success of students with disabilities. Areas of focus include providing educational opportunities, resources and support for educators that encourage application of pedagogical methods that support accommodations and encourage overall accessibility, for example: universal design17 for learning, identification of essential academic requirements and skills, proactive course design, and inclusive delivery methods and facilitation principles.

Human Rights Office

19.   The Human Rights Office is responsible for providing expert advice on the duty to accommodate and accessibility matters for staff, students and faculty and handling complaints related to harassment and/or discrimination, including discrimination based on disability6, as per Policy 67a - Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.

Office of the Registrar

20.   The Office of the Registrar is responsible for ensuring that University admissions policies and processes are aligned with this Policy and for:

  1. Informing student applicants with disabilities about the way to request academic accommodations1 during the application process and working with student applicants to develop and implement agreed upon accommodation plans, as applicable;
  2. working closely with the SASS – Academic Accommodations and Facilities to provide adequate classroom or special equipment use for students with disabilities; and
  3. making special arrangements for students with disabilities at convocation ceremonies.


21.   The Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs is responsible for reviewing this Policy every two years to bring it in line with current legislation in Ontario.

22.   The Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs may amend this Policy in order to update the following information contained herein:

  1. the designation, title or identity of officials, offices, or departments and contact information within the University; and
  2. the title or citation of legislation, regulations, policies or procedures.

23.   The Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs may establish, amend, abrogate or make exceptions to procedures for purposes of the effective implementation of this Policy, provided that such procedures or exceptions are consistent with the provisions of this Policy.

24.   Amendments to this Policy other than those set out in paragraph 22 shall require the approval of the Senate.


25.   All exceptions to this Policy must be approved by the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs.


26.   The following definitions apply in this Policy:

« 1 Academic accommodation » refers to permanent or temporary planned variation in the way a student or a student applicant with a disability6 receives course curriculum and materials, participates in academic activities, or demonstrates skills or mastery of knowledge of a course or a program through evaluation and assessment.

« 2 Academic activities » refers to activities related to courses, programs, research and work integrated learning.

« 3 Academic standards » refers to benchmarks of quality and excellence in education such as the Degree Level Expectations (DLE) established by the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents (OCAV).

« 4 Appropriate accommodation » refers to an accommodation that meets individual code ground- related needs and results in equitable opportunity for that individual to enjoy the same level of benefits, privileges, and opportunities that are made available to others in the university community with no alteration in academic standards3 or outcomes, although the manner in which the individual demonstrates mastery of knowledge and skills may be altered.

« 5 Appropriate documentation » means current, thorough, and appropriate assessment from a registered and regulated health professional15 qualified to diagnose a condition, to verify a disability6 and to understand the impact of the disability6 and any resulting functional limitations it places on a student.

« 6 Disability » refers to a degree of permanent, temporary or fluctuant physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediments, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment or physical reliance on a guide dog or other service animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device;

  1. A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability;
  2. A learning disability or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;
  3. A mental disorder;
  4. An injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

« 7 Educational services » means services whose scope includes the mastery of knowledge, academic standards3, evaluation and accreditation.

« 8 Educator » means professors of various ranks such as, adjunct professors, assistant professors, associate professors, and (full) professors, usually tenured (or tenure-track) in terms of their contract of employment and other employees of the University providing educational services7 to students and student applicants (such as instructors, lecturer, laboratory supervisors, teaching assistants, or placement coordinators).

« 9 Essential academic requirements and skills » refers to indispensable, vital, and very important knowledge or skills, which must be acquired or demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet academic standards3 and the learning outcomes of the course/program, or milestone requirements such as comprehensives and thesis requirements.

« 10 Experiential learning » means an approach to learning based on hands-on experience. Skills, knowledge, and experience are acquired outside of the traditional classroom setting, and can include internships, studies abroad, field trips, field research, co-op and clinical placements.

« 11 Known disability » means a disability-related need that has been identified, or where a prima facie case of discrimination has been established or it becomes apparent that a student may have an undiagnosed health condition with accompanying functional limitations that impair the student’s academic functioning.

« 12 Learning environment » refers to any setting where university learning takes place, whether in the classroom, in labs, online, through electronic or social media, off campus or during experiential learning10 settings, research and studies.

« 13 Retroactive academic accommodation » means when the request for an academic accommodation is made after-the-fact (e.g. after a course has been completed) for either a permanent or temporary disability, as the result of the discovery or diagnosis of an existing disability of which the student was previously unaware.

« 14 Reasonable accommodation » means appropriate accommodation4 provided to the point of undue hardship16 to enable student applicants and students to meet the course or program essential academic requirements and skills.

« 15 Registered and regulated health professional » refers to licensed medical professional such as a family doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or psychological associate.

« 16 Undue hardship » refers to the three factors for consideration prescribed by the Ontario Human Rights Code when determining if a request for an accommodation constitutes undue hardship.

These factors are:

  1. Cost;
  2. Availability of outside resources or funding; and
  3. Health and safety requirements.

« 17 Universal design » refers to course designs and learning environments12 that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.